Sunday, January 14, 2007

Goon's Own Country?

A few weeks ago, there was an incident in Kerala that really assured me that the "Dog's Own Country" title we have for this blog is well deserved, and hard earned by some of the people of Kerala. Of course, like our beloved politicians and priests say..everything is for the people, our society, our community. So we have to be proud of all these things I guess. Or perhaps, like we are trained to do - be silent about it..and pretend we are the best. Ahh..Kerala..God's Own Country..And God's Own People..

The incident was an attack on a pilot who was at a toll-booth in Trivandrum, Kerala. The pilot was travelling with one of his friends, a doctor, and his wife. At the toll-booth, despite having paid the fee, he was stopped and attacked. Since he was from the military background he was able to withstand the swords, rods and more than 5-6 goondas (Toll booth workers) that attacked him, and exit from the scene with injuries and a damaged vehicle.

Later the pilot and co attempted to lodge a complaint at the nearest police station. And he was greeted with abuse and counter-complaints. The reason: The toll-booth was under the control of a prominent local political party leader. And how can the cops go against them? Dare they do that and risk being transferred to Wayanad? (Although I think Wayanad is heavenly!). After all, the police are meant to serve - oh no..not the people..but the politicians.

Anyway there are two important pointers from this incident:

1. Is there justice for the ordinary citizen? I would say no. Unless you have political backing and power, there is no justice in Kerala. One would say its more or less the same in the rest of India. But aren't we the ones claiming to be literate and socially developed and all those glittering honors on the exterior? The so called "social justice in Kerala" is just a farce. If you focus on your work and family and your own life, you will sooner or later lose out. Instead if you join some party, and muster enough support from the local network, then you can dictate terms. Sadly thats whats happening in Kerala. The youth are learning this right from school. You get beaten up, unless you are a part of some party. Everyone encourages you to join one of the unions. And unions have invaded schools. Just 2 days ago there was a picture in the newspaper of school kids from the youth party unit doing a protest march but covering their faces just in case their parents saw their pics in the paper! Ridiculous I say. Is this what we are training the new generation for? There have been widespread protests against the Supreme Court rule for banning party-politics in Schools and Colleges! That will be the single most important step for the future of India, particularly Kerala!

2. The above mentioned incident occured in front of a long line of cars..and people.. at either side of the toll booth. And not a single person, or group of people, dared to help this pilot and his friend. Is it apathy? Or is it plain fear? Isn't it funny that in Kerala, party politics is organized in such a way that if you dont like anything, just rope in the party and organize a can supercede justice, judiciary and any rule by doing just that. Recent examples: 1. Video piracy is rampant and action against erring shops was undertaken. The unions are brought in. They conduct a hartal! Why cant Keralites use pirated content? We are superior, we are the best. 2. Public transport vehicles were causing too many accidents and a lot of people died. Speed-governors were to be implemented. The unions come in. There is a bandh against speed-governors. Why cant public transport vehicles overspeed and cause accidents? We are too good to have speedbreakers and be controlled. And its sad the doctors in Kerala are also treading the same path with their recent spate of hartals. Isn't there any other solution? Are we all so mentally challenged to stoop down to such pathetically low levels?

And there are plenty more incidents on a daily basis happening all over Kerala that marks the state of deterioration - mental, social , economical and political.

Arms haul in Kochi, Goondas reigning over police in Trivandrum, Political party workers beating up citizens who dont contribute to the party, increasing robberies and theft, eve-teasing, molestations and rapes.. Do all these reports affect Keralites beyond the morning coffee gossip session? Guess not. Or probably yes. But we are taught to pretend we are the best. Lets not "wash dirty linen in public" we are constantly reminded. Lets keep all our problems to ourselves and pretend.

And since we dont want to get beaten up, lets join the party.


silverine said...

Frightening scenario. And feels so unbelievable when you read it sitting here in Bangalore. Everywhere people are voting for change and supporting and in fact pressing for amendment in outdated laws but the reverse is happening in Kerala. I feel so disheartened reading this :(

Slightly OT but it looks like there are more like minded people like you out there. I saw this discussion sometime back.

silverine said...

Someone sent me this article recently. Though I don't agree to his stand on secession, he has righty pointed out the reason for this mentality which I myself have seen.

MC said...

@ silverine - as much as its unbelievable and true..i hope you, or anyone else, reading these things dont get disheartened..but rather hope it inspires all of us to think differently..inspire all of us to consciously and unconsciously cultivate mentalities among other malayalis to change..think positively..welcome development etc..

it does look like a big challenge, with even educated youth behaving in strange i said here perhaps it does have something to do with the way we educate children.

i read that article..i think its pointless, and bordering insanity, to blame india for keralas woes! thank god for other states and countries that gave our keralites job and shelter..else many families would have died of poverty. its time we created jobs in our own states..stop bothering about politics..and change ourselves.our families..our friends..our peers..

thank you for the first comment..always is a pleasure.

abhishek said...

Every country has its soul. You have not seen the U.S. if you have not been to San Francisco. You have not been to Romania if you have not visited its countryside. You have not visited Thailand if you have not visited Chiang Mai. I have always desired that when people talk about India, they also talk about Kerala.

But the truth is that while Kerala might have been the beacon of hope for the rest of India at one point in our history, it no longer carries any vestige of that hope. From political participation in the middle and lower classes, we have turned to political apathy. From matrilineal societies, we have turned to domestic violence and public humiliation. From freedom for the masses, we have turned to the tyranny of the few. From a population that walked its talk, we have become one that talked its walk.

Where does this end? This ends here, with each one of us. It ends when we bring our wayward relatives into line. It ends when we chide our recalcitrant children into action and out of the hands of expoitative parties. It ends when non-resident Keralites become politically assertive and demands their right to vote. It ends when the unrepresented refuse to turn their backs in shameful silence. It is happening for the rest of India. Why can it not happen here?

മാവേലികേരളം(Maveli Keralam) said...

daer MC
I just saw your article. Will sent a comment after reading it

PCM said...

This is an epitome of what is happening in Kerala.'United we stand, divided we fall' is the dictum unflinchingly followed through Unions.Just and genuine arguments, reasoning, rationality etc. are out of bounds now.If you want to be heard, form a Union, get political support and declare a hartal. Ministers recommend that. "How can I do something for you unless you project it through strikes or hartals?" is what they ask.
Look at the behaviour of the Media. They also project only such 'sensational' things - to make your morning coffee spicy. Good things said and done never reach the pages of the newspapers. A minister playing on the Chenda in the Youth Festival is great news. I know of a person who devoted his whole life for forming 'neighbourhood groups' Ayalkoottam and teaching them self help. His name never appeared in the papers.
Now, CITU has found that cinema workers are suffering for want of a Union. They are forming it. Already, in construction sites, the Unions dictate terms. For a job that required ten hands, they forcibly get 100 people employed. Let us hope that the cinema field will also be 'improved' thanks to efforts of CITU.
@silverine: Don't worry!Now Achuthanandan doesn't need so many reasons. He will see to it that Smart City goes away.

MC said...

@ abhishek - great to see you again..i tried emailing..all mails bounced from your id. thought you were on vacation or something.

you know its so good to read your inspiring comment..i can sense the charged up feelings in it..

but i keep wondering..what will inspire the majority of keralites..i mean what will it take to inspire keralites into doing something concrete..than just wile away their energies - they have so much energy - yet it all goes wasted in nothings.

you are right about the end..the end is the beginning of the new kerala..each one of us will have a role to play.

@ maveli - thank you

@ pcm - absolutely true..i dont think we can rely on the current political system or media too much..unless we force or inspire them also in doing something abhishek also said, it has to be an individual action..each one do his or her own little bit..and that will add up to form a great force.

Anonymous said...

Really sad what is happening. Is this the price we have to pay for claiming 100% literacy. Education should open minds and hearts. In this case education of Keralites has made him more and more arrogant, highly disregardful of other people, selfish and in the end a disgrace to the entire humanity. When will he learn to accept responsibility for his actions.

Babin said...

@MC, I don't know what to comment here.. Obiviously not proud state of affairs. In terms of GoC Vs DoC debate, no question DoC has much more leverage than GoC in the present situation in kerala:)


Well said mc! There is no hope or redemption for the ordinary Malayali! There is yet another "hartal" on the horizon this week in Trivandrum! This has become the obsession and favourite past time of the goondas! A British journalist who was recently caught up in one of the Great Kerala "Bandh" wrote that she felt like being under "House Arrest"for 24 hrs! How can a person's freedom to move around and do business as usual be violated by a few thugs? What about the revenues lost to the exchequer? A few months back a retired government servant was stabbed & his house ransacked in Trivandrum for refusing to pay a contribution "PIRIVU" for an event organised by a local trade union. If you live in Kerala, every day some gooda group or the other in the guise of some social organisation will com to your house demanding "Pirivu" for them. If your payment is not to their satisfaction they will start with verbal abuses which can culminate in physical violence!
Unless there is a change to this Malayali mindset and attitudes, we have only 2 options; either to live our lives in fear in Kerala or join the "Quit Kerala" movement!

PCM said...

Do you know the latest about the Goonda Ordinance? Public workers (i.e. political activists)are exempt from the ambit of the Ordinace. Which means that if you want to continue to be a goonda, join some political wing of the Marxists. Already the process has started. Someone, a notorious thug in the Capital and an accused in 21 crimes including murder, is about to be excluded after some farce of an enqiry. Another, involved in about 20 cases, is known to have assumed a major role in a recent DYFI meeting, which makes it easy for the Police to exempt him also. If we can believe the newspaper report, huge amounts are changing hands for this favour!
Long live Goonda Act.

Vinod/Kakka said...

One of the pre-requisites for a society to be called a democracy is the rule of the law. If a section of the society is exempt from following rules, then a society ceases to be a democracy.
What I have observed is that the political class in Kerala is exempt from following any rules. It is not based on parties that a person belong to etc: If you can be called a politician, then you do not have to follow the rules.
Kerala is a politicocracy, where politics trumps everything else. A call to a hartal, and everything is forgotten.
"Organize against law" seems to be the way that our soceity is headed. Earlier, the laws where those thought to be discriminatory. Now it can be any law.
Traders for piracy protection, Doctors for apathy and bribe protection, where will all these end? CPM and LDF never said that these trends are bad: Neither did UDF or BJP for that matter. The media also did not editiorilize their opposition to either of these hartals.
Nobody cares about the law. Maybe thats why we have so many laws: If you do not have to obey the law, lets legislate the ideal, and just continue doing whatever we want

Sinu S Kumar said...

sad state of affairs

PCM said...

Here’s proof of what we are discussing:
Justice K. P. Radhakrishna Menon, ex-ombudsman, describes how his efforts to make Cochin a clean city were defeated by the Corporation.(Manorama dated 16.01.07 Editorial Page)
He titles the article ‘The Ill-fate of the Citizens of Cochin’. As the Ombudsman, he had passed many orders to maintain the City clean, but the Mayor and the Corporation was not keen on implementing them.
He cites these examples:
1. To make Cochin a clean city, the first requirement was to maintain the three Canals – Perandur, Rameswaram and Kalvathi – clean by avoiding stagnation of water. He designed a project to revive the canals with the help of the Star Hotels and Business houses in Cochin. A meeting of such sponsors and the Corporation Officials was organized, but the Mayor purposely kept away from it. Though all the others welcomed the project, it could not be carried out because the Mayor did not co-operate. If the project had materialized, Cochin would have got a face-lift and the mosquito menace would have been under control.
2. Another project to fight the mosquito menace was envisaged. This involved cleaning the drains once in a week using sea water. Orders were passed to this effect, as also cleaning the three canals periodically. Nobody in the Corporation was interested in carrying out the orders.
3. He offered to take the initiative to discuss the issue of waste-dumping at Brahmapuram with the residents there and make an amicable settlement, but the Corporation authorities took no hand in bringing them together and discussing the issue.
4. Using the powers of the Ombudsman, he issued many orders to make Cochin a clean city. As per the Municipal Act, the Mayor was bound to obey them. The Justice issued him with Show-Cause notice for not obeying the orders, but the Mayor obtained orders from the High Court preventing the Ombudsman from taking action.
5. He was ultimately forced to shelve the efforts to make Cochin a clean city because of the offensive behavior of the Corporation authorities and the intervention of the HC. The people of Cochin are now suffering from the irresponsibility of those Officials who sit on their respective seats pretending that cleaning the city is not their duty.
6. The difficulties suffered by the tax-paying people who are subjected to untold miseries are beyond words. Will the Smart City under foreign Collaboration make the stinking city equal to heaven?
7. I learnt from my experience as the Ombudsman that no one should expect any help or service from those who stick to their chairs under the conviction that Money power is much greater than the power of Law.
If the Ombudsman is so helpless, what can we, ordinary mortals, do?

PCM said...

Please treat No. 7 of the above comment as a quotation from KPR.

alakananda said...

sad state of affairs. i don't know if kerala will ever be saved. even if maveli himself were to come back, the trade unions will chase him out too for sure. God Help Kerala!
but i do appreciate ur efforts.

Riot said...

Very well said.

Before we despair, we need to keep in mind that there are places in the world that worse off. Child soldiers of Sierra Leone trusted only their weapons and were ready to kill even for a glass of water. Kerala is not that bad.

But the way forward is not to compare us with the worst, but with the best. The act of motivating people and bring about change is very delicate. Too much gloom, people despair and give up. I think the Save Kerala initiative is doing an excellent job to bring forth the right discussion. Let us bring about change one small thing at a time

Abhishek said it beautifully. Change starts with you and me. It would be nice if every post were to highlight choices to move forward, to bring about change. A vast majority of ordinary Keralites do not approve of hartals, student unions and militant trade unions. Are there genuine honest folks trying to bring about change? If so, can we join them? Can we provide support to their efforts? If there is no present effort can we start one?

Fiery posts are great. It makes for a great read. We need to follow that up with at least some action. Save Kerala initiative can be a venue to do that.

Keep up the good work

Tinkerbells said...

Jus wondering...did the media take up the cause? I feel, if some channel/newspaper takes up the issue then the law and order system will be forced to book the culprits...

sJ said...

Rule of law is some thing that has been missing in kerala for some time now.Its all based on lobby-political/industry.

Its not only with common people not getting justice, even the bad kunhalikutty got boot from govt and then suddenly he is not so bad any more to all his opponents.They were just to get him down and not for anything to do with the real cause .Makes me wonder whether these fellas are genuine in any thing at all.

Govt signed ADB project after opposing it so much a few months ago and now points out to some change which they made that could ve been made with a simple bilateral peaceful discussion before.Aint they at least responsible for the delay they caused. Shame and resposibility are not their cup of tea any way.

Self financing colleges: Court struck down the ordinance. No shame at that failure , not even a hint of it.First response is "we will challenge it at a higher court". Never ever heard of constitution in the first place then how will they think of it?

Medical strike:
Thank god it failed.Who get the credit- not that any one should get credit for it as it is wrong to put other people in to trouble just to get ur agenda thru.But there might be a lesson in it to put an end to other strikes as well.
my thoughts on its failure.
1. court asking the govt to name who would be held responsible if things go wrong or people have to suffer. A big QUESTION as its taken for granted in kerala/India that public hospitals and offices are not really responsible to any one . Its taken for granted that its charity. Doesnt people know tht everyone pays tax even when buying matchsticks? It would be a good idea to clarify the point as to who should be responsible in case any future strikes come.Can this be extrapolated to other services as well????
2.Majority of pvt sector hospitals who are charging for what they give (which is the right thing to do)had cold feet.When ur future depends on ur performance u cant afford to fool around.
3.A major fact: A section of docs had a tinge of conscience and was not happy to strike.A great news in a field where its a dying virtue. " senior profs at med college didnot go with the assoc leaders for srike". Either they are acknowledging the sad state in our med college patient care or allowing the rule of justice. Either way I would say that would be a great leap.These docs should be honoured for sticking their head out and telling the all powerful union to be responsible and not trigger happy when it comes to strikes.Never saw a decent discussion on that nor was our press any were near making the point. Let police and forensic decide whether the doc was responsible for the death.We may not be able to discuss that with out facts and we will never get it other than the distorted one presented by channels and paper which would as usual be hearsay at its best. I for one wouldnt be surprised if the arrested doc ever got around to examine the patient as he is the head of the unit and on an average the wards would be full and its not humanely possible to get any where near proper care.Not that its an excuse.Just to highlight that u get what u pay for."One drug for all ailments" just like the old time.

Anonymous said...

Yes, our State has become dogs owm country where nothing can done without fearing the attack of the SFI criminals who support the CPM for anything and everything.

UNNI said...

Whether it is the UDF or LDF ruling the politicians in Kerala are in interested in the betterment of their kith and kin than that of the State or Nation...See the waste disposal situation in Kochi ...or the fracas about Mullaperiyar...add to that the so called SWASRAYA bill etc. and u have get a general idea

sumal said...

Excellent article. More power to your pen

mathew said...

escellent take..I wish there was some magic wand that could clean up all the dirt from our system..

We still are in a Orvellian society!

Anonymous said...

Err. From where did poor Orwell come in?

Is there anything being done here other than posting emotional articles?

Does anyone have the inkling of a strategy to improve things? Or are we going the regular Malayalee way of fiery speeches and nothing else?

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